It’s not often that one gets to experience several ecosystems and an amazing collection of agave and cacti in one leisurely stroll. It’s even more rare to sit in the middle of the world’s finest collection of arid-land plants from deserts around the world, surrounded by gorgeous vegetation, watching quail walking through the flowerbeds just inches away and enjoy a feast fit for a foodie. Gertrude’s at the Desert Botanical Garden allows diners to do just that.

Gertrude’s utilizes a space that was originally a greenhouse and has reimagined and repurposed an area that once held the plant and gift shops and transformed it into a full-service restaurant with indoor and patio seating for 170, an exhibition kitchen, a private 12-seat chef’s table and expansive bar.

Side barAs you might expect from a restaurant that sits in the middle of Arizona’s most iconic garden, Gertrude’s utilizes fresh ingredients that come from artisans and farmers from around Arizona and the Southwest. The culinary team also utilizes herbs and vegetables grown on the restaurant’s patio and in the Desert Botanical Garden’s Community Garden. But Gertrude’s takes its super-fresh ingredients to a new level, serving dishes that are perfectly prepared and impeccably presented in an atmosphere that is both romantic and serene.

A few dishes that stand out and come highly recommended:

For an appetizer, don’t miss the Littleneck Clams ($15) with ham-hock broth, charred tomatoes and grilled bread. You’ll be fighting over who gets to dip the last piece of bread into the broth that is pure deliciousness.

The Arugula Salad ($13) with pomegranate seeds, candied pecans, blue cheese and agave vinaigrette is so fresh, vibrant and flavorful that you’ll consider ordering a second. But don’t, because the entrees are out of this world. You’ll want to leave room.

Don’t visit Gertrude’s without trying the Korean Fried Chicken Thighs ($26), which comes with brussels sprouts, kimchi vinaigrette and yogurt. While this might be a bit spicy for some palates, it might also be the most inventive, innovative and best dish being served in Phoenix right now.

Giving the Korean Fried Chicken Thighs a run for its money when it comes to thinking outside the box is the Niman Ranch Top Sirloin ($34) with fried green chili macaroni and cheese and chipotle jus. The fried green chili macaroni alone is worth the price of admission.

Gertrude’s offers great service, a great venue and a breathtaking setting. The Desert Botanical Garden is one of the 33 Phoenix Points of Pride. Gertrude’s helps make the garden a point of perfection.